Dr Emmanuel Kwadwo Tenkorang, the Ashanti Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has made an urgent appeal for more paediatric eye care specialists in the Country to boost eye care for children and prevent childhood blindness.
Speaking at a media briefing in Kumasi on eye care, he said the country had only four of paediatric ophthalmologists, a situation limiting access of children with eye care problems to seek early treatment to prevent blindness.
He said about 13,000 children under age 18 in Ghana were blind whilst 200,000 were believed to be blind, additionally, 600,000 more were living with visual impairment but 80 per cent of these could be prevented by early detection and appropriate medical intervention.
Dr Tenkorang attributed the cause of childhood blindness to self-medication, congenital cataract, glaucoma, retinal and optic nerve diseases, corneal scarring, traditional and other environmental factors.
He called on parents to avoid self-medication and seek early treatment for all kinds of childhood eye problems, to avoid blindness.
The goal of the media encounter was to review the work of Orbis, an eye health outfit seeking to improve and ensure quality eye healthcare in the Region, and to also encourage the media to up the campaign on eye early treatment, especially for children.
It is an in-country programme established in 2014 in partnership with the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP) and Ministry of Health to strengthen child eye health at KATH.
Currently, Orbis is undertaking eye projects the Afigya Kwabre, Atwima Kwanwoma, Bosomtwe and Ejisu Districts, all in the Ashanti Region.
Dr Tenkorang noted that the Regional Directorate had trained 130 Community-Based Health Officers on eye health screening, diagnosis and community education and also provided logistical support through the Orbis’ Initiative.
They were also strengthening the capacity of School Health Education Programme (SHEP) school coordinators to conduct visual acuity tests and refer school children with potential eye health conditions.